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Oswego Council To Ponder Re-Establishing Mayoral Assistant Position

OSWEGO, NY – On Tuesday, the Common Council will review the mayor’s salary and consider the possibility of reinstating the position of mayoral assistant.

By March 15, the council must make a recommendation regarding the mayor’s salary for the coming year, according to Council President Ron Kaplewicz.

The current salary rate is good through the end of 2011.

“If there are going to be changes for 2012 when the new administration comes in, we have to start by March 15,” he said. “We want to bring this up for discussion; and, really that is all that it is at this point, just discussion.”

In the City Charter, Section C-4-01, states that the council shall review the mayor’s salary during each mayoral term and report its recommendation of any increase by March 15 of the last year of that term. No increase in salary shall take place during the incumbent’s term, except by local law.

Kaplewicz said he would like to offer whoever the new mayor might be a couple of options.

Number one would be to continue as is with the current salary and the mayor would be the city’s chief executive officer and deal with everything.

Plan B would re-establish the executive assistant as a full-time position in City Hall.

If that were the case, the mayor’s salary would be reduced.

“I think a full-time executive is something the city needs. We’re running a multi-million dollar corporation and need someone there every day,” Kaplewicz explained. “The department heads have issues that need attention every day; we need someone there to handle these situations.”

There are also times when people from out of town visit the Port City on business, he noted. If there were a full-time executive assistant at City Hall they would be able to accommodate the visitors any time, he added.

“There are decisions that need to be made every day. I think this would be a more efficient way to run city government. It would also allow the mayor to concentrate more on what needs to be done in the future instead of being bogged down with the day to day stuff; that’s also important but can be very time consuming,” he said.

The council needs to have “a healthy, open public discussion” regarding the matter, Kaplewicz said.

“I know budgets are tough,” he said. “We don’t need to increase our budget to accommodate the executive assistant’s salary. I believe we can rearrange some existing dollars in the budget to cover this so that there is burden on the taxpayer.”

3 Comments

  1. I think it is a very good idea to have a full time mayoral assistant. When I worked at Niagara Mohawk and held other positions it was sometimes necessary to get a quick decision from the mayors office. Several of the mayors assistants were excellent and capable og handeling the situations. I am sure there are several people available to fill this position and I would be happy to lend any help I can. Jim Rebbeor

  2. Ron K. and Council: Over many other administrations there were mayoral assistants, and I know several who were a boon to the City government. There were a few that appeared not worthy of their salaries, and many of us long-time residents can recall those individuals who did not work out in this position, and were let go with much media fanfare, so I have no doubt the council will select carefully.

    As the existing mayor’s position is part-time, I think it is beneficial to the office to have someone there all of the time. However, are there department heads in other offices that have already stepped in to make low-level executive decisions. Especially with the consultation of the mayor by phone or email?

    What will be the duties of this position, especially that are not covered currently by current staff members? Will the need for this position be closely outlined your council vote, and will the community vote on this position if there might be an increase in taxation?

    In this current economy, is there a way to accommodate the additional cost of this position (as it would have to entice someone with extensive public service experience to even apply, and the pay be commiserate with that experience), without cutting services elsewhere?

    We don’t need to add more to the tax burden to this community which suffers with few private sectort revenues (most professional jobs in our city are government rather than private sector, unlike when we last had a mayoral assistant).

    We certainly don’t need to cut any more service positions, either, such as DPW or Police/Fire in order to come up with the funds to pay this position (which is easily $100,000 with benefits). So, we’d have to do some more scraping to the bottom of the budget (no new cars for city workers?/no more office materials like computers? I ask HOW?), without a referendum for something we need within a year or two of the creation of this position, am I correct in fearing this?

    IF this can be done without raising taxes or cutting essential services, I believe MOST Oswegonians would be satisfied to reinstate this position. But another $75,000 + annual salary (or more with retirement/medical benefits possibly), might not be possible without cutting something (or someone) else who makes $75,000 a year! Are there offices willing to cut two or three clerical workers in order to fund this one position? HOW will you do this?

    Yet, saying the above, during the Bateman administration, as a business owner and resident of the Oswego community, I personally did not feel any loss to NOT having this position. As an average citizen, not corporate head or visiting dignitary, I thought Mary Vanouse’s Office or other offices seemed to fill in quite well, and these are well-trained staff members already on board.

    This existing staff seemed more than capable of picking up the bat when the mayor was not in his office. But then, Randy made himself available more than his part-time status dictated. So, I dunno. Bring it to the table, and see how it WILL impact the community finan$$$ially! How it will all play out!

    Debbie Engelke
    Time & Again Books & Tea
    Oswego, NY

  3. Well….maybe it’s time the mayor’s position pay-scale be dropped down to what that position really is….a part-time job for more than full-time pay! With the $$$ we, the taxpayers, are forking out to fill this part-time position imagine what’ll happen when they put another mayoral position on the backs of the few of us that are left! Use the money from the pay-reduction to offset the cost of actually having someone available at city hall! Oh yeah, enough with the cronyism which abounds here and no doubt will dictate who actually ends up being that “assistant”. Tell you what, I’m contemplating a run at that mayorship. What can I bring to the table? Not much but I most assuredly would return half that salary & do everything possible to repeal the ridiculous amount of $$$ we’re paying for that water/sewer fiasco! I know the real deal on that too and it would seethe people if I said anything. With that, the taxpayers…although mostly silent…are screaming for relief from those currently in charge and getting them out of our wallets!

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